Skip to main content

View Post [edit]

Poster: RonPrice1 Date: Jan 17, 2015 10:42pm
Forum: television Subject: Alfred Hitchcock: Personal Reflections

ALFRED HITCHCOCK: SOME THOUGHTS

Preamble:

I put the following pieces of prose and prose-poetry together as a single literary package after watching Hitchcock, a 2012 American biographical dramafilm based on Stephen Rebello's non-fiction book Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho. The film was released on 23 November 2012; I saw this dramafilm two years and two months later, yesterday evening 17/1/'151 on TV, in Tasmania Australia. In 2015 was entering the last decade of late adulthood, the years from 60 to 80 according to one model of human development used by psychologists.

Psycho was a 1960 American psychological thriller-horror film directed by Alfred Hitchcock starring Anthony Perkins, Vera Miles, John Gavin, and Janet Leigh. The film was released in the same week I began grade 11 at high school in the then small town of Burlington in Ontario's golden horseshoe. I had just finished one of my most successful summer seasons on the mound and at bat in Burlington's midget league, as well as in the Halton County baseball association. Readers with the interest can access all the details they require about the film at several websites.

Psycho's screenplay was by Joseph Stefano, and it was based on the 1959 novel by the same name. In 1959 I joined the Baha'i Faith and knew nothing of the novel, although I had heard of Alfred Hitchcock on TV several years before; I also saw the film several years later at some time from 1961 to 1963, my last years of high school.

Sir Alfred Joseph Hitchcock(1899-1980) was an English film director and producer. Often nicknamed "The Master of Suspense", he pioneered many techniques in the suspense and psychological thriller genres. After a successful career in British cinema in both silent films & early talkies, renowned as England's best director, Hitchcock moved to Hollywood in 1939; he became a US citizen in 1955. Wikipedia has an excellent overview of his life and I commend it to readers with the interest. The magazine MovieMaker has described him as the most influential filmmaker of all time, and he is widely regarded as one of cinema's most significant artists.2-Ron Price with thanks to 1ONE TV, 17/1/'15, 8:30-10:30, and 2Wikipedia.
-----------------------------------------------------
MYSTERIOUS DISPENSATIONS OF PROVIDENCE

Part 1:

I first came to see Alfred Hitchcock on TV in October 1955 in my family’s lounge-room in Burlington Ontario, although I might have seen his classic movie Dial “M” for Murder in 1954. After more than sixty years I can’t recall with any exactitude when I saw any of Hitchcock's films. Hitchcock’s ten year long series of what are now ‘classic’ TV programs had just begun in 1955 when I was in grade 6, age 11, and the home-run king in local Little League baseball. I watched, perhaps, two years of Hitchcock's programs before my parents sold our TV thinking it to be a bad influence, especially on my school-work. I would not come to have a TV in my home for the next 20 years when I was in my early 30s, married with kids and living in Australia.

Originally 25 minutes per episode, the series was expanded to 50 minutes in 1962 and re-titled The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. In 1962 I had just begun my travelling-and-pioneering for the Canadian Baha'i community, and working on my matriculation, the notorious grade 13, as it was called in Ontario. Alfred Hitchcock's programs had, by then, been long-gone from my life.

Hitchcock directed less than 20 of the 268 filmed episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. The last new episode aired on 26 June 1965. Mystery, crime, horror and the supernatural, invariably with a twist in the tale, came on TV week after week for a decade, and the world has now had 60 years of reruns. I may watch some of those 268 episodes, now syndicated and on DVD, as I go through my late adulthood and old age in the years 2014 to 2044, if I last that long. Time will tell.

Part 2:

I was working for the Canadian Peace Research Institute as an abstracter at the time of that last episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. It was a summer job in the little town of Dundas. My father had died, and I had completed the second year of an honours program in history and philosophy at McMaster University in Ontario, both the month before. One month later I turned 21 and had a new job working as an electrician's assistant with the Steel Company of Canada, Stelco, in the lunch-pail city of Hamilton.

On Tuesday 29 April 1980, three days before I went into the psychiatric clinic of the Launceston General Hospital, Alfred Hitchcock died.1 He was 80 years old. I was about to experience, at least for about the next ten days, the last occurrence of real terror in my life. I would have fear many times in life again, but terror was part of my bi-polar illness and, on that Tuesday 29 April 1980, I was on the edge of the throes of my life's last major hypomanic episode.

Terror inflicted on the unknowing was one of the themes in Hitchcock movies. Fear was also part of his recipe for movie success. In October 1955 a premeditated campaign of terror was in process in Iran against the Baha’i community. My mother had just joined the Canadian Baha'i community. The then leader of the Bahá'í community, Shoghi Effendi, characterized that campaign as an ordeal “in pursuance of the mysterious dispensations of Providence.2 -Ron Price with thanks to 1Wikipedia, and 2Shoghi Effendi, Citadel of Faith, Wilmette, 1965, p.139.

Part 3:

While terror was entertaining
TV’s lounge-room-troops, and
millions of cinema-goers, thanks
to the clever & talented endeavor
of that famous director----Alfred
Hitchcock, then about to enter the
last decade of a career: meteoric,
bizarre, idiosyncratic and highly
unpredictable, before a slow and
unhappy slide to death in the first
15 years of my adult life: '65-'80!

.....the Iranian Baha’i community
was entertaining its own terror....
not a devastating flood, but a very
gentle rain on a green pasture; not
a calamity, but God’s providence,
a wick and oil unto the lamp of Faith.

And, Alfred, as your years went on
and you garnered-in all that success,
the ship of this Faith sailed safely in
to port well beyond the terrors of the
sea which could have taken the Cause
right off its course, and any full-blown
understanding of the meaning of this is
beyond our generation.1 But with that
terror overcome, they had to endure it
again and again as part of that history
which I have now been hearing about
all the years of my life---with the end
nowhere in sight even at this late hour!

I, too, had my own ordeal in life as I
went through the stages in the lifespan;
it was also an ordeal in pursuance of
those mysterious dispensations of a
watchful Providence with the end no
where in sight as I go through my 70s.

1 Century of Light, p. 92.

Ron Price
8/1/'05 to 18/1/'15.
----------------------------------------------------
ALREAD HITCHCOCK: SOME THOUGHTS

As I hit the mid-point of my 71st year in January 2015, and go into the sixth year on my old-age pension, with the great bulk of my bi-polar illness behind me, or so I like to think, so I hope, I do not anticipate suffering the way many do after the age of seventy. Of course, no man knows how and when his own end shall be, wrote some poet.1 I have a strange, but pleasing, premonition that the worst is behind me. Unlike Mark Twain, whose life from age 60 on was blasted by calamity and sorrow; unlike the cinema director Alfred Hitchcock who was plagued by alcohol and depression from sixty-five until his death at the age of eighty, unlike many others in their declining years of late adulthood, I see a very fertile part of my life as just beginning, perhaps the most fertile part, albeit a different life than the one I have known.

It is a life I am looking forward to with relish, and I am trusting to those mysterious dispensations of that watchful Providence. This is not to say that fatigue, exhaustion and anxiety will not afflict me and forces at large in the world will not assail me. I may require the perseverance I have seen in my wife for the last 40 years.-Ron Price with thanks to 1The Bible: New International Version, Mark 13:32, and Ecclesiastes 9:12 which says: "Moreover, no one knows when their hour will come: As fish are caught in a cruel net, or birds are taken in a snare, so people are trapped by evil times that fall unexpectedly upon them," and "But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
-----------------------------------------------------------
HITCHCOCK and MUSIC

Jack Sullivan is director of American Studies and professor of English at Rider University, New Jersey, USA. He has written1 a long overdue tribute to Alfred Hitchcock's musical perspicacity. Sullivan demonstrates Hitchcock’s uncanny ability to manipulate audiences not only with his striking, frightening images but also his adroit use of music, of all kinds, to heighten suspense, atmosphere and drama. He also knew when to employ silences or musical rests to maximum effect. Some of his most distinguished composers, such as Arthur Benjamin, credited him with being far more serious about music than any other director.

Hitchcock was a cultured man. He had no formal music training yet was a fervent music-lover and keen concertgoer. Hitchcock came into my life, perhaps as early as 1954 with Dial “M” For Murder. -Ron Price with thanks to 1Ian Lace’s review at Music Web International of Hitchcock's music, Jack Sullivan, Yale University Press, 2006.

You’d been going strong, Alfred,
for thirty years before you came
into my life with Dial “M” For
Murder, with Psycho and The
Birds, their gripping music &
their memorable sounds, now
lost in my memory bank from
my childhood and teens when
the winter of my own life was
setting in early & new values1
had begun to capture my mind
& imagination long ago, Alfred.

Over your long career2 you presided
over more musical styles than any
directors in history; ultimately you
changed how we thought about film
music, any film music--oh so clever.

And thanks, Jack, for your discussion
of Hitchcock’s music to influence the
atmosphere, characterization and even
storylines of his films.......Hitchcock’s
relationships with composers: Bernard
Herrmann, Dimitri Tiomkin, Maurice
Jarr and Franz Waxman--achievement,
a sign of genius; they changed the way
we watched-listened to movies-yessiree.

1 The Bahá'í Faith
2 From his work on a film in 1921, The Lodger, to his last in 1976, Family Plot

Ron Price
14/8/'09 to 18/1/'15
---------------------------------------
end of document

Reply [edit]

Poster: RonPrice1 Date: Jul 22, 2015 1:41am
Forum: television Subject: Re: Alfred Hitchcock: Personal Reflections

With no responses in the first 6 months that the above post has been at this Internet Archive Forum, I'll add a personal reflection on the Horror and Gothic film genres.-Ron
----------------------------------------
THE GOTHIC

In a field of study as well-established as the Gothic, it is surprising how much contention there is over precisely what that term refers to. Is Gothic a genre, for example, or a mode? Should it be only applicable to literary and film texts that deal with tropes of haunting and trauma set in a gloomy atmosphere, or might it meaningfully be applied to other cultural forms of production, such as music or animation?

Can television shows aimed at children be considered Gothic? What about food? When is something “Gothic” and when is it “horror”? Is there even a difference? The Gothic as a phenomenon is commonly identified as beginning with Horace Walpole’s novel The Castle of Otranto (1764), which was followed by Clara Reeve’s The Old English Baron (1778), the romances of Ann Radcliffe and Matthew Lewis’ The Monk (1796).

Nineteenth-century Gothic literature was characterised by “penny dreadfuls” & novels such as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818) & Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897). Frequently dismissed as sensational and escapist, the Gothic has experienced a critical revival in recent decades, beginning with the feminist revisionism of the 1970s by critics such as Ellen Moers, Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar. With the appearance of studies such as David Punter’s The Literature of Terror (1980), Gothic literature became a reputable field of scholarly research, with critics identifying suburban Gothic, imperial Gothic, postcolonial Gothic & numerous national Gothics, including Irish Gothic & the Gothic of the American South. Furthermore, as this special edition on Gothic shows, the Gothic is by no means limited to literature, with film, television, animation and music all partaking of the Gothic inflection. For more on this subject go to: http://journal.media-culture.org.au/index.php/mcjournal/article/viewArticle/880 For more of my reflections on film in general go to: http://www.ronpriceepoch.com/Cinema.html